For most, transferring to an unfamiliar school coming from a big city would be an immense challenge. For sophomore Lion newcomer Ryan Riddle, it has been the exact opposite. Riddle looks to add even more depth to a stacked cross country roster looking to compete on the national level.
Riddle transferred to Missouri Southern from Division I University of Tulsa and plans to run cross country and track for the Lions this season. Riddle is a sophomore Kinesiology major who hails from one of the local high schools, Webb City High School. Riddle was a prep standout, holding multiple school records for distance running.
Moving to Tulsa was not easy for Riddle, which is one of the reasons why he made his way back to Southwest Missouri. “I wanted to be back home,” said Riddle, “It was a big transition for me moving to a big city.”
Family and faith are big parts of Riddle’s life and provided even more reasons to move back to the area. “It’s been really easy being close to home. Meeting with all my teammates has been easy. It’s been really nice.”
Regarding his faith, Riddle remains humble even with his talents. “Faith is very important to me and my family. I see it as I’ve been blessed with this talent and He can take it away at any time,” said Riddle.
Despite all the success Riddle has found in his running career that has been going nonstop since seventh grade, it’s not about the medals and trophies. For Riddle, it’s all about personal achievement. “It’s not so much about winning the race. It’s about how much I can push my body to do. It’s very relaxing to me.”
Elite cross country runners put in a tremendous amount of practice to be able to compete at the level they compete. During track and cross country season, training takes over Riddle’s life. Between school, going to bed early, and trying to stay healthy—mixed with running 85-90 miles per week—doesn’t leave much time for hobbies. However, when downtime does occur, Riddle enjoys reading his Bible, hanging out with his family, and playing the occasional game of basketball.
Many athletes have pregame rituals to get them into the mindset of the race. Riddle described his pre-race rituals as very laid back and relaxed. “You don’t want to be too serious before the race. You want to be in the right mindset,” said Riddle. In order to run an effective race, relaxation is key.
Riddle’s most proud moment in his athletic career came when he broke 9 minutes in the two-mile race. Improving on his own records is what drives him to keep practicing and training.
Although cross country season is upon us, Riddle looks to make noise during the track and field season as well. He plans to compete for Southern in the spring indoor and outdoor track and field teams this coming season. He enjoys the track season more because of the various distances he gets to run, but he also enjoys the scenery of cross country. The views keep and different terrains keep him coming back to the cross country course.
Riddle’s greatest role model is Jim Ryun, an 8-time world record holder and Kansas native. Ryun was, during his time, one of the top middle distance runners in the world. According to Riddle, “He [Ryun] was big into faith and did some amazing things.”
Riddle is very grateful to Southern and his coaches for giving him the opportunity to compete at a high level.
Riddle and the rest of the Lion cross country athletes will be competing this Saturday, Sept. 21 as Southern hosts the annual Southern Stampede.